Flaky scalp? Fix it fast with these tried-and-tested home remedies
Does the winter weather dry out your scalp, leaving it itchy, irritated and flaky? Before you reach for the Head & Shoulders, let us stop you. Many people confuse dandruff (greasy, flaking scalp) with a dry scalp. If you're suffering from dry scalp, you'll experience itching, tightness and flaky skin which you'll usually notice on your clothes. The flakes aren't greasy, as they are with dandruff - they're a sign that your scalp is lacking in moisture or has been dried out, usually by using hair products, shampoos, conditioners and styling aids. A dry, flaky scalp needs careful treatment, as if you leave it to its own devices, you could experience thinning hair or hair loss. So what can you do to restore moisture to your scalp, fix the flaking and relieve irritation? Before you start scratching your head in confusion at all the various treatments you'll find online and in your local chemist, we have a better solution. Try some of these home remedies to gently restore balance to a dried out, stressed scalp - your hair will thank you for it!
Coconut oil has antibacterial properties and is wonderfully moisturising for your hair and skin. We recommend purchasing pure, virgin coconut oil from a health food store. Warm a few tablespoons of coconut oil for a few seconds in your microwave or in a pan on the hob. Apply to your scalp, separating your hair and massaging in firm, circular motions. Cover your head with a warm towel and leave the oil in for a few hours (or even overnight) before shampooing thoroughly.
Not just a great addition to salad dressings, olive oil can help your scalp and skin to retain moisture - just make sure to use extra vitgin olive oil. Warm it gently in the microwave or in a small pan on the hob, then spend 15 minutes massaging it into your scalp. Wrap your hair in a warm towel and leave the oil on for an hour, before shampooing thoroughly. It's best to continue treating your hair with olive oil everyday for a week, until the flakiness subsides.
Apple Cider Vinegar
The anti-inflammatory properties of apple cider vinegar makes it perfect for treating a dry, flaky scalp and it can help restore pH balance, which could be upset by deposits in water or hair products. Dilute a little apple cider vinegar (around a couple of teaspoons) in a spray bottle with some water. This way you can part your hair and spray the solution directly onto the scalp. Leave on for half an hour before shampooing thoroughly. Repeat every couple of days - you may wish to follow with an avocado hair mask to moisturise your hair and scalp.
Naturally moisturising aloe vera also contains compounds which can fight bacterial and fungal infections. Whilst it's best to use aloe directly from the leaves of the plant, this isn't always possible. You can buy natural, organic aloe vera gel at health food stores. Apply to the scalp and leave for a few hours before rinsing thoroughly.
Do you have half an avocado left in the fridge from your avocado toast? The high fat content makes these fruits perfect for moisturising your skin and scalp, and an avocado mask will leave your hair incredibly shiny! Mash or blend half an avocado and massage the puree into your hair and scalp. Wrap your head in a clean towel and leave on for an hour before shampooing thoroughly. Ideally, you should continue this treatment everyday for 3 to 4 days, to remove dead skin cells and nourish your scalp. Once your scalp has healed, a continued application once a week will help prevent flakes - and if you're using half an avocado as a scalp and hair treatment, there are plenty of ways to use the other half!
Honey and Lemon
Honey is a natural moisturiser which helps restore balance to dry skin and scalp, whilst lemon juice helps naturally exfoliate dry skin cells on the scalp. Mix two tablespoons of honey with a little lemon juice (fresh is best) and apply all over your scalp. Massage in and leave for half an hour. It may be easier to do this once you have washed your hair - honey is simpler to apply on a damp scalp! Rinse and shampoo thoroughly and follow with a good conditioner - the lemon juice can be quite drying.
Brown Sugar Scrub
Sometimes the dry skin on your scalp just needs exfoliating - after all, we exfoliate our faces and bodies, so why not our scalps? Provided you don't have broken skin or sore patches on your scalp, using brown sugar as an exfoliant works well to remove dead skin cells, flakes and product build up, and there are two ways to do this. The first way involves mixing a little brown sugar with some extra virgin olive oil and performing a gentle scalp massage prior to washing your hair. The sugar gently exfoliates whilst the olive oil moisturises. Or if you're pushed for time, you could go for the quick and easy route - pour your shampoo into your palm and add about a teaspoon of brown sugar, mix it around with your finger and plonk it on your scalp, massaging it in thoroughly and focusing on any areas that are prone to flaking. Not only will this take care of dry skin, it will leave you with soft, glossy hair and help to remove product buildup too! It's best to limit this treatment to once a week, as scalps can be fairly sensitive.
So forget those harsh anti-dandruff products and over-the-counter medications that promise to clear up flakes and treat your scalp to a natural home treatment with ingredients you probably already have in your fridge and cupboards after your weekly shop! Eating a healthy, balanced diet can help too, as can staying hydrated, as your scalp is often the last place to benefit from nutrients you consume. Within a few days you'll be enjoying a happy, flake-free scalp and softer, shinier hair!